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Commodores open in Fort Myers

 

Posted Jan 25, 2017 at 4:23 PM

By Pat McCannThe News Herald

 

In junior college baseball, fall practice could be projected as being the equivalent of Major League Baseball's exhibition season.

 

Given that starting point, then the nonconference schedule is the regular season and the Panhandle Conference grind the start of a lengthy playoff elimination culminating with the state tournament and possibly the nationals.

 

Using that for a premise, Gulf Coast welcomes the regular season starting Friday in Fort Myers when it faces Florida Southwestern at 6 p.m. CST.

 

The Commodores, 44-18 last season and a state tournament participant, play again Saturday at 4 p.m. vs. ASA Miami and finish up a three-game opening series against State College of Florida at 9 a.m. Sunday.

 

Head coach Mike Kandler enters his 12th season about to discover if his team will forge an identity as one that comes ready to battle from the opening pitch.

 

"I'm very anxious to see how we compete," Kandler said. "If we go out there and strap it on or back away from talent. Our nonconference schedule is not easy by any means.

 

"You can see the physical things, but you don't know until the bell goes off. A lot of people can look good in rehearsal and then forget their lines on opening night."

 

The Commodores, like most junior college ballclubs, will field a balanced mix of freshmen and sophomores, both on the mound and in the field. Gulf Coast also has an intriguing blend of area talent and out-of-state players on the roster.

 

Kandler said that sophomores Dylan Ciphert, Austin Krzeminski (transfer) and Alec Wisely probably will start on the mound this weekend. He mentioned holdover Greg Loukinen as a likely candidate for long relief who could get some starts this spring, and sounded anxious to get Alec Aleywine (Bozeman), Trever Kilcrease (Arnold) and Jordan Tylski (holdover) some innings.

 

He wasn't as settled on an opening day lineup, hoping to get a couple more intrasquads in before naming the starters.

"I'd like to have more decisions made then we have; to me that's what fall is for," Kandler said. "We know about what half the lineup is going to be. Ideally I'd like to be a little further along in knowing what we have.

 

"Wisely will play second and pitch and is a really good player. Tylski will play shortstop or third depending on the combination. (Sophomore Carnegy) Calzado in right field, (Jacquez) Koonce will get a ton of time in center."

Kandler added that Aleywine has done a nice job at first base.

 

"The question is more when he's pitching what are we going to do over there," Kandler said.

 

Aleywine is 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, Calzado 6-2, 210 and Tylski is bigger this year at 6-2, 200. However, Kandler

doesn't forsee his club knocking down too many fences.

 

"I don't think it's going to be a lot of power," Kandler said. "We've got good overall team speed. Offensively it could be more little ball, bunting, hitting and running. Putting pressure on that way.

 

"Through the fall one thing we did a pretty good job of doing is play defense. I think we'll be as good or better" as last season. "The personnel is there, it's just got to go out and do it."

 

Kandler said that certain players earned the right to play right away from their consistency in the fall. Those who were up and down will be rotated in to begin with.

 

"We won't play the exact same guys, but that doesn't mean everybody will get some playing time" this weekend, Kandler said. "But we've got to get some different pieces in there."

 

There isn't a set schedule for the pitching staff.

 

"We don't put an inning or pitch count on them," Kandler said. "It would be nice to get them through the fourth for sure, and if they had a low pitch count send them back out there.

 

"But eventually they get stretched out. It's really hard to tell a kid how long he should go."

 

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